NATUE ALERT — last three days of the public consultation as part of the ‘fitness check’ for EU nature legislation (Birds Directive, Habitats Directive)

#NATUREALERTFor the past three months the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion has held a pub­lic con­sul­ta­tion as part of the ‘fit­ness check’ for EU nature leg­is­la­tion (Birds Direc­tive, Habi­tats Direc­tive — BHD). the BHD and related Natura 2000 net­work are a unique tool of envi­ron­men­tal pol­icy that has gained enor­mous impor­tance for the pro­tec­tion of species and habi­tats through­out Europe!

That is why I per­son­ally (and for my insti­tute) responded to the online con­sul­ta­tion, despite the fact that I was not very happy with the merely mul­ti­ple choice ques­tions (that are indeed quite spe­cific). Unfor­tu­nately there is only lit­tle room for com­ments (but there is!). Now, as the last three days of the con­sul­ta­tion are on, I am highly encour­ag­ing you to have your say on this. You can do that either directly on the web­site of the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion (that requires some think­ing to go through, note that there is a shorter 14 ques­tion ver­sion for the gen­eral pub­lic avail­able and an extended ver­sion for experts you are asked to answer or not after fill­ing in the first ques­tions) or you can use the “Nature alert” plat­form that has been estab­lished by a union of sev­eral big nature con­ser­va­tion NGOs in Europe. This is a great ini­tia­tive where you can defend the BHD and our nat­ural envi­ron­ment in a sim­ple and con­vinc­ing way (like the almost half a mil­lion sig­na­to­ries so far!).

Which way you choose — can’t say this too often — please get active and have your say now! (con­sul­ta­tion closes July 24, 2015)

Last but not least this is also very rel­e­vant for the field of impact mit­i­ga­tion and com­pen­sa­tion, in par­tic­u­lar with regard to Art. 6 of the Habi­tats Direc­tive which requires appro­pri­ate assess­ment of impacts and related com­pen­sa­tion measures!

Find some more tech­ni­cal infor­ma­tion on the con­sul­ta­tion pasted below as well as my com­ment that I have included in my participation.

Objec­tive of the consultation

This con­sul­ta­tion is designed to gather opin­ions on cur­rent EU nature con­ser­va­tion leg­is­la­tion (the Birds Direc­tive and the Habi­tats Direc­tive) and its imple­men­ta­tion to date, as part of the ‘fit­ness check’ that the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion is car­ry­ing out under its Reg­u­la­tory Fit­ness and Per­for­mance Pro­gramme (REFIT).

The fit­ness check looks at whether the cur­rent reg­u­la­tory frame­work is pro­por­tion­ate and fit for pur­pose, and deliv­er­ing as expected. Specif­i­cally, it assesses the rel­e­vance, effec­tive­ness, effi­ciency, coher­ence and EU added value of the leg­is­la­tion. How­ever, the fit­ness check does not con­sider pos­si­ble future changes to the leg­is­la­tion. If required, this would be done in a sep­a­rate impact assessment.

Details of the fit­ness check timetable and process

The results of this con­sul­ta­tion will be assessed and sum­marised in a report, which will be made pub­licly avail­able on the fit­ness check web­site. You are invited to read the pri­vacy state­ment attached to this con­sul­ta­tion for infor­ma­tion on how your per­sonal data and con­tri­bu­tion will be dealt with.

Birds Direc­tive & Habi­tats Direc­tive strate­gic objectives

Adopted in 1979, the Birds Direc­tive is designed to pro­tect all wild birds and their most impor­tant habi­tats across the EU. Its strate­gic objec­tive is ‘to main­tain the pop­u­la­tion of all species of wild birds in the EU at a level which cor­re­sponds to eco­log­i­cal, sci­en­tific and cul­tural require­ments, while tak­ing account of eco­nomic and recre­ational require­ments, or to adapt the pop­u­la­tion of these species to that level’.

The Habi­tats Direc­tive, adopted in 1992, intro­duces sim­i­lar mea­sures for some 230 habi­tat types and 1 000 species of wild ani­mals and plants — col­lec­tively referred to as ‘species of EU inter­est’. Its strate­gic objec­tive is ‘to main­tain or restore nat­ural habi­tats and species of EU inter­est at favourable con­ser­va­tion sta­tus, tak­ing into account eco­nomic, social and cul­tural require­ments and regional and local characteristics’.

How the Birds and Habi­tats Direc­tives pro­tect nature

The Direc­tives require all EU coun­tries to:

  • set up a strict pro­tec­tion regime for all wild Euro­pean bird species and other endan­gered species listed in Annex IV to the Habi­tats Directive.

  • des­ig­nate core sites for the pro­tec­tion of species and habi­tat types listed in Annexes I and II to the Habi­tats Direc­tive and Annex I to the Birds Direc­tive as well as migra­tory birds.

Together, these des­ig­nated sites form part of a net­work of areas for nature — the Euro­pean Natura 2000 Net­work. This con­sists of some 27 000 pro­tected areas of high bio­di­ver­sity value cov­er­ing about 18% of the EU and over 4% of its seas.

Natura 2000 sites are selected on purely sci­en­tific grounds. Each EU coun­try then decides which mea­sures are needed to ensure appro­pri­ate pro­tec­tion based on the needs of the species and habi­tats, tak­ing into account eco­nomic, social and cul­tural require­ments and any regional and local characteristics.

To check whether the Direc­tives are achiev­ing their aims, EU coun­tries mon­i­tor progress and report back to the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion every 6 years on the sta­tus of the species and habi­tats of EU inter­est that are present in their ter­ri­tory. The Com­mis­sion then brings together this infor­ma­tion to determine:

  • the over­all EU-wide trend for each species and habitat
  • whether they have reached a favourable con­ser­va­tion sta­tus, or are on the way to it.

Struc­ture of the questionnaire

You are invited to fill in the online ques­tion­naire, which is avail­able below. Please note that it is avail­able in all EU languages.

There are two parts to the ques­tion­naire. The first part is designed for the gen­eral pub­lic and does not require exten­sive knowl­edge or expe­ri­ence of the Direc­tives. The ques­tions relate to issues of effec­tive­ness, effi­ciency, rel­e­vance, coher­ence and EU added value. The ques­tions in the sec­ond part build on those in the first part and cover sim­i­lar issues, but in more depth. They require some under­stand­ing of the Direc­tives and their implementation.

You must answer the ques­tions in the first part for your response to be taken into account. You will then be asked whether you wish to answer the more detailed ques­tions in the sec­ond part of the ques­tion­naire. If not, you can still make addi­tional com­ments in a free text box before sub­mit­ting your response.

You may pause at any time and con­tinue later. Once you have sub­mit­ted your answers, you can down­load a copy of your com­pleted responses

Please note that due to tech­ni­cal require­ments for pro­cess­ing the ques­tion­naire, and in order to ensure a fair and trans­par­ent con­sul­ta­tion process, only responses received through the online ques­tion­naire will be taken into account and included in the report sum­maris­ing the responses. Ques­tion­naires sent by e-mail or in paper for­mat will not be analysed.

My com­ment added to the par­tic­i­pa­tion in the consultation

Within a rel­a­tively small period of time the Habi­tats Direc­tive and the Birds Direc­tive (BHD) have become  impor­tant pol­icy and legal instru­ments for nature con­ser­va­tion at Euro­pean and national level.

Despite imple­men­ta­tion gaps and imple­men­ta­tion delays at national level (e.g. in Ger­many), the BHD are firmly insti­tu­tion­al­ized and very effec­tive in achiev­ing their objec­tives, including

  • they make an impor­tant con­tri­bu­tion to the inter­na­tional, Euro­pean and national con­ser­va­tion poli­cies — espe­cially the Inter­na­tional Con­ven­tion on Bio­log­i­cal Diver­sity, the EU Bio­di­ver­sity Action Plan and the National Bio­di­ver­sity Strategy.
  • they have become an impor­tant anchor point in national nature con­ser­va­tion prac­tice (in the case of Ger­many an enor­mous input into national leg­is­la­tion under the Fed­eral Nature Con­ser­va­tion Act) and have caused an expan­sion of the national sys­tem of pro­tected areas.
  • they take a com­pre­hen­sive approach: the  Natura 2000 man­age­ment plan­ning and com­pli­ance check ensure that pro­tected areas are sus­tain­ably main­tained and devel­oped (con­cept of favor­able con­ser­va­tion sta­tus) and pro­tected against (eco­nomic, etc.) developments.
  • the species pro­tec­tion inspec­tion in accor­dance with Arti­cle 16 of the Habi­tats Direc­tive has an impor­tant role in the pro­tec­tion of the Habi­tats types (indi­vid­u­als based approach).
  • they fos­ter cross-border coop­er­a­tion in nature conservation.

The ongo­ing “health check” should aim at strength­en­ing the enforce­ment of the poli­cies in all Mem­ber States of the EU and a fur­ther expan­sion, in par­tic­u­lar through an effec­tive reduc­tion of the fund­ing and man­age­ment, and increased inter­na­tional cooperation.



NATUE ALERT — last three days of the public consultation as part of the ‘fitness check’ for EU nature legislation (Birds Directive, Habitats Directive) — 2 Comments

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